In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “How long does cooked ground beef last?”. We will look at the characteristics such as shelf-life, spoilage signs, and reasons. We will also delve into the storage techniques such as refrigeration to ensure the longest possible shelf-life of cooked ground beef.
How long does cooked ground beef last?
Cooked ground beef will last for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, while in the freezer it lasts for 3-4 months.
Why is ground beef popular?
Ground Beef is a must-buy. It is a versatile meat kind that is tasty and inexpensive. You can cook Ground Beef into anything from casseroles to hamburger steak. The best part is it takes shorter to cook because of its exposed surface area and is a good source of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B. This ground-up red meat will provide you with essential nutrients when eaten as part of a balanced diet.
What makes your cooked Ground Beef spoil?
Meat is mostly water and highly nutritious, which means that it is a haven for bacterial growth. Ground beef may be more susceptible than the solid counterpart because of its exposed surface area.
Hence, it is likely to spoil sooner if it wasn’t refrigerated or handled properly.
Meat is usually attacked by Escherichia coli, Salmonella spp., Listeria; these microorganisms thrive at a slower pace if the ground meat was handled carefully.
When you freeze, the bacteria become inactive; hence your meat lasts longer. Freezing meat is always a safe bet because the microbial activity has completely halted.
However, if the meat was subjected to certain adverse conditions such as hot temperature; or an exposed environment; your meat quality and safety are at stake.
If you refrigerate your ground meat you can expect to consume it safely until the sell-by date or even a few days after.
Refrigeration is not as efficient as freezing is when it comes to conserving the shelf life of meat. Refrigeration works best if you intend to consume your ground meat sooner or later.
How to store ground beef? (refrigeration versus Freezing)
- For extended storage, freeze instead of refrigerating it.
- Thaw in the fridge rather than the room temperature.
- Once you thaw, do not refreeze.
According to the USDA, when you buy beef, freeze it within 3-4 days. However, if your best-buy date for refrigeration has not passed yet, you could still choose to freeze it. Make sure it is still in a store-bought air-tight container and place it as further away from the door as possible.
According to USDA, the temperature of 40 F to 140 F is labeled as ‘The Danger Zone’. This range of temperature encourages bacterial growth. Spoilage is usually a quality issue in its initial stage and does not cause illness. However, gradually the food becomes a complete hazard.
To keep ground meat out of the danger zone, store them at extreme temperatures of either hot or cold.
What conditions compel you to discard Cooked Ground Beef?
IF you left meat at room temperature for more than 2 hours, you might need to throw it away. Room temperature or higher encourages bacterial growth that can cause food poisoning and make a person sick.
The quality of meat deteriorates as the sell-by date approaches, but it gives off signs when it is about to spoil. Throw it away if you observe off-odor, moldy or slimy texture.
If you observe any of the three following signs, it means your ground beef has spoilt:
- a Greyish-brown color
- a sticky or slimy texture
- a tangy, putrid odor
Let us discuss some measures you could take to ensure that the cooked ground beef lasts for as long as it can.
- After you prepare the ground beef it should be refrigerated immediately or within 2 hours.
- You can also freeze your cooked ground meat to ensure freshness for a longer period. Ground beef in the freezer will last for four months.
- Put in an air-tight container to prevent ambient microorganisms from coming in contact with the ground beef.
You could also use aluminum or plastic foil to wrap up your ground beef and prevent ambient microorganisms from coming in contact with it. Wrapping ensures maximum safety and quality of any food quality.
Meat is a perishable commodity that requires careful handling. Meat is home to microorganisms that can cause food poisoning. It is advised to store meat at low temperatures as room temperature can cause your meat to spoil prematurely. Therefore, it has been deemed necessary to care for ground-up meat-based products.
In this brief guide, we answered the question, “How long does cooked ground beef last?”. We looked at the characteristics such as shelf-life, spoilage signs, and reasons. We also delved into the storage techniques such as refrigeration to ensure the longest possible shelf-life of cooked ground beef.